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When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. Isaiah 43:2

The fairy tales of old all have a familiar ring to them. They all start ‘once upon a time’. It doesn’t matter when they started or took place or where. They started. That’s all that needs to be known. The other thing that rings true is how they end. ‘They all lived happily ever after.’ The tyrant or big, bad wolf, or wicked witch all vanished. The flowers grew, the birds sang and life was good. Forever.

As children, perhaps one of the reasons we loved fairy tales so much was that they give us a glimpse of life that we know, as adults, will never really happen. Wolves win sometimes. Wickedness doesn’t just go away. Giants still roam the land and the walls of our unseen prisons seem inescapable. Fairy tales gave us hope that someday things will work out. Our dreams can be attained. Miracles will happen.

Isaiah 43:2 gives us a more realistic view of how life happens and what we can expect. There will be waters to pass through. The original languages describe this water as ‘deep water’ such as an ocean. There will be rivers to cross. Rushing, rock smashing rivers that threaten to tear our boats apart. There will be fire. Consuming fires that have no regard for the sanctity of life or the treasures we possess. Fire destroys everything.

But along with the horror Isaiah describes comes hope. When the Israelites were trapped at the edge of the Red Sea. And Pharaoh’s army was closing in. And there was no way out, no hope, nothing left to do but surrender and hope for the best. God made a way through the deep waters. He took a hopeless situation and brought His people through it.

When Israel needed to cross the mighty river Jordan to enter into the land promised them long ago. God parted those waters. The rushing torrents were silenced. He delivered His people safely through to dry ground.

When Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were thrown into the fiery furnace for refusing to give into an evil world system. Innocent as they were and following God’s law to the letter, their fate was sealed by an evil king bent on proving his power. Yet when the King looked into the furnace he saw the impossible. The men were walking around in the midst of the flames. When they were released, they didn’t even smell of smoke!

Three lessons. Three examples of life’s attacks. The open attack of an enemy. The barriers to our dreams. The attacks when we are innocent. They each come into our lives. We were never promised that we would not see adversity and calamity in our life time. We were promised that in the midst of the most violent circumstances our Heavenly Father will walk us through. He loves us. Even in the direst of circumstances He will see us through.

PRAYER: Father God. I thank you for the promise you made that my life is completely and totally in your hands. Today I have many worries and concerns. It seems like my enemies are surrounding me. Sometimes I think I’m my own worst enemy! Help me to trust you in the midst of the trials of life. Thank you for loving me. Amen.

If the LORD is pleased with us, he will lead us into that land, a land flowing with milk and honey, and will give it to us. Only do not rebel against the LORD. And do not be afraid of the people of the land, because we will swallow them up. Their protection is gone, but the LORD is with us. Do not be afraid of them.” Numbers 14:8-9

It had been a long journey for the people of God. After years of captivity they had been rescued from Egyptian bondage after a series of miracles in which Pharaoh allowed them to leave. Now they reached the border of the Promised Land. During the journey God had provided them with fresh water, fresh meat, and shade from the hot desert sun by day and the warmth of a pillar of fire by night. All of this in the face of constant complaining on the part of the Israelites.

Now 12 spies were being sent into the land to scout it out. The excitement these men must have had! This was it! After years of waiting all their dreams were to be fulfilled. They gave their wives and children a final kiss and hug and walked into the land that had been described to them as a ‘land flowing with milk and honey.’

Their mission? To gain information that would be helpful for conquest. What were the people like? What did the cities look like? What was the land like? And perhaps most importantly, ‘Bring back some of the grapes!” Fresh fruit would surely be a treat that most of these people had never tasted!

Imagine what it must have been like for the families who stayed behind. Watching daily for the familiar figures of the men to come over the mountain. Dreaming of having a home again and no longer being nomads; the children excitedly bragging about what they would do once they got there. It must have been a very exciting time.

Finally, one day someone shouts “They’re back!” A cheer erupts as the 12 figures approach the camp loaded down with huge bunches of sweet, ripe grapes. What a celebration must have ensued as the men told stories of what they had seen and the adventures they took part in.

Then, the most important news of all, “What are the people like?” And a hush falls over the crowd. The countenance of the men grows grim. “They are too big,” They speak softly and shake their heads “The cities are walled; the men are huge like giants. A group such as ourselves doesn’t stand a chance against them.”

Women wept. Children stared with disbelief. Men grew angry. The turned on Moses and Aaron first. It was their idea to drag them into the wilderness. Then they turned their anger towards God. It was so much better in Egypt. The food was wonderful. They had homes and good land. Now they were doomed to life in the desert.

In the midst of the chaos two of the twelve spoke up. They had been largely ignored at first as they were the youngest. Now they raise their voices. “Listen! If God is in this, and He’s told us He is, then the size of the enemy doesn’t matter! Don’t blame God. Give Him a chance to show His power. If He is on our side it doesn’t matter how big they are or how tall their walls are. Protection comes from God not men and not buildings!”

The message is the same for us today. When we are walking in God’s way and following His direction and guidance, His protection is upon us. That doesn’t mean we won’t endure the wilderness from time to time. Being a Christ-follower doesn’t exclude us from suffering.  What it does mean is that eventually, if we are patient and trust Him, He will bring us to the ‘Promised Land’.

PRAYER: Father God I thank you for the protection you promise us through your Son, Jesus Christ. I confess to you the times when I’ve complained about life and questioned your direction. Forgive me for the fear I have of the giants in my life. Help me to rest on your promise that your protection is with me as I war against the giants I encounter. Amen.

What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? Romans 8:31

All the farm animals were sitting around one day deciding how they could honor the farmer who took such good care of them. The Cow gladly offered some milk. The chicken jumped in to offer the eggs. All eyes turned to the pig sitting quietly in the corner. “You know, said the cow, some ham would go mighty nice with those eggs and milk.” The pig thought a moment and then said, “Yes, but you don’t realize that each of your gifts are but a part of you. For me to give, I would have to give my entire life.”

The old story reminds us that we are more likely to take an interest in things when they cost us. It’s easy to say we believe in God and Jesus when we are in a safe crowd. It’s easy to look godly on Sunday morning and angelic when we sing praise and worship songs.

It’s difficult to make the right choices when the pressure is on to have to sacrifice everything to go along with the crowd. It’s almost impossible to be willing to risk your own life or the life of your children for someone else or a cause.

The Bible is the story of God’s desire to show love to mankind. His desire is and always has been to give life to His most cherished creation. That’s why He gave all He could possibly give to provide you with a relationship of love with Him now and a promise of eternal life after we leave this world.

Because He loves you so much, He watched His innocent son die among thieves for the sin of guilty criminals. Because He loves you so much, He allows you to refer to Him as ‘Daddy’ He welcomes you into His arms as though you (a mere mortal) were His very own son. Because He loves you so much He is honored to accept you into His very presence, into the throne room of Heaven. Because He loves you so much, He is willing to give you His own power through His Holy Spirit.

Is it any wonder then, that we can rest in His protection. If we draw near to Him and trust us with our lives we don’t need to worry about the enemies that surround us. Nothing can separate us from Him. Nothing can attack us without His permission. Even when we rebel against Him, He beckons us to come to Him for healing.

If God is for me, then no seen or unseen enemy will win over me! I am His and He is mine. Forever.

PRAYER: Father, I confess to you that most times the struggles I endure and the fears I face are consequences of my own poor decisions and my stubborn rebellion to follow your ways.  Thank you for giving up so much of yourself for me when you knew I would fail you and others around me. Forgive me for my rebellious spirit. Help me to learn to walk with you through the struggles of life whether they are my own creation or the work of the enemy. Empower me now to live with the resolve to follow your ways and be guided by Your Holy Spirit. Give me courage to do what is right regardless of the fall out. Amen.

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